Many hormonal changes occur in the female body prior to and during menstruation. Bloating, lower back pain, and stomach cramps are just some of the symptoms women experience at this time of the month. But can nails also be affected?

“I have one client who mentioned to me that she has lifting prior to her period,” says Sherri Evans-Hoelzer, owner of Get Nailed by Sherri & Co. in Yuma, Ariz. “At our salon, we document everything on the client’s card. After noticing that some clients would experience lifting only at certain times of the month, we started asking them if the problem occurred around their periods. Many of them confirmed that the lilting occurred either immediately before, during, or after menstruation,” she says.

Says Sheryl Macauley, owner of The Nail Resort in Bakersfield, Calif., “I’ve noticed that certain clients experience lifting 3-5 days prior to their period. If a client comes in who normally doesn’t have any problems with lifting, I’ll ask her if she is on her period or if she is taking any medication. I’d say about 50% of my clients have problems with lifting around the time of their period, including myself,” she says.

For Corinne Johnson, owner of The Polished Look in Tacoma, Wash., increased sensitivity around the nail bed is the complaint made by main of her clients around their periods. She says, “I’ve noticed that at certain times some clients are more sensitive when I’m filing their nails; if I’m doing a gel service, they may be more sensitive to the heal dining the curing process. I’ll ask them if they are menstruating, and many times the answer is yes. I used to do skin care and was told by instructors not to do a lot of extractions around a clients cycle because her skin is sensitive during that time.”

So what do the nail specialists have to say? Dr. Richard Scher says it is difficult to determine the exact effect of menstruation on the nails because a fingernail takes six months to grow completely; a toenail 12-18 months. “It is certainly logical to surmise that hormones have an effect on the nails; however, when a woman is menstruating, only the live portion of the nail is affected, and that part of the nail is still being formed in the matrix, beneath the cuticle,” he explains. “Therefore,” he continues, “I don’t believe that putting an artificial product on a woman’s nails during her period affects how the product adheres.”

Dr. Jamie MacDougall, a dermatologist based in Manhattan Beach, Calif., says: “I have a hard time understanding how menstruation can have an impact on nails. The nail itself is a dead tissue so I can’t imagine how a hormonal change could trigger a structural change in the nail. There is no ongoing process in the nail once it starts to grow out.”

As for clients experiencing extreme sensitivity, another dermatologist we spoke to says it may be due to the fluid retention that occurs in the hands and feet during menstruation. Fluid retention causes the tissue to stretch, which in turn stretches the nerve, he says.

Dr. Paul Kechijian, a dermatologist based in Great Neck. N.Y., says: “Some women may feel or notice pain or discomfort a little more at the time of menstruation, especially if they’re under stress.” Over-all, though, he thinks there is probably no correlation between nails lifting and menstruation. “None of my patients has ever demonstrated a change in her nails during this time of her cycle,” he saws. In Dr. Kechijian’s medical opinion, nothing biologically affects the nails during menstruation.

Although there is no published scientific documentation of the effect of menstruation on nails, technicians who notice their clients have a pattern of lifting and/or sensitivity around menstruation should note it on the client’s card.

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